The Command to Leave SinaiExodus 33:1 The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’ 2 I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
4 When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. 5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’ ” 6 Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The Tent of Meeting7 Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Moses’ Intercession12 Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
In consequence, it was clearly understood by the biblical authors that no human being could ever set eyes on God and survive the experience. They might perhaps be permitted to see his ‘back’ but not his ‘face’, the sunshine but not the sun. (Exod. 33:20–23; Judg. 13:22) And all those who were granted even a glimpse of his glory were unable to endure the sight. Moses ‘hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God’. When Isaiah had his vision of Yahweh enthroned and exalted, he was overwhelmed by the sense of his uncleanness. When God revealed himself personally to Job, Job’s reaction was to ‘despise’ himself and to ‘repent in dust and ashes’. Ezekiel saw only ‘the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD’, in burning fire and brilliant light, but it was enough to make him fall prostrate to the ground. At a similar vision Daniel also collapsed and fainted, with his face to the ground. As for those who were confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ, even during his earthly life when his glory was veiled, they felt a profound discomfort. For example, he provoked in Peter a sense of his sinfulness and of his unfitness to be in his presence. And when John saw his ascended magnificence, he ‘fell at his feet as though dead’.(Exod. 3:6; Isa. 6:1–5; Job 42:5–6; Ezek. 1:28; Dan. 10:9; Luke 5:8; Rev. 1:17) ( The Cross of Christ )21 And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
Mary Anoints Jesus at BethanyJohn 12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
The Plot to Kill Lazarus9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The Triumphal Entry12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
Some Greeks Seek Jesus20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
The Unbelief of the PeopleWhen Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
The indictment of vv. 37–41 is followed by the exceptions of vv. 42–43 While the people seemed to trust Jesus with much more candor and fervency, the leaders of Israel who believed in him demonstrated inadequate, irresolute, even spurious faith. The faith of the latter was so weak that they refused to take any position that would threaten their position in the synagogue. This is one of the saddest statements about spiritual leadership, for they preferred the praises of men above the praises of God in their refusal to publicly acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.. ESV MacArthur Study Bible
Jesus Came to Save the World44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
The Way of Wisdom
Proverbs 9:1 Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
2 She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
5 “Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.”
7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
The Way of Folly
13 The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house;
she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15 calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way,
16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18 But he does not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
By Grace Through FaithEphesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
One in Christ11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
ESV Study Bible
What I'm Reading
When Your Life’s on the Line, Accuracy Is More Important Than Sincerity
By J. Warner Wallace 3/8/2018
Police officers are required to qualify with their service weapons on a regular basis. At our agency, we qualify every month, shooting a standard qualification course in our range. This qualification includes what we call a “failure drill”, testing our accuracy under stressful conditions. When officers use their weapons in the field, it’s in response to a life threatening challenge; their lives are on the line. Accuracy is critical. It’s not enough to shoot at the person who is trying to kill you; officers must be accurate enough to stop the assailant quickly and completely. There’s no room for error. It’s not enough to have tried; in that critical moment, the only thing that matters is accuracy. For this reason, our range masters will not allow officers to work in the field unless they can pass the weapon qualification at a high level. I’ve been in the range when an officer missed passing by a single point (a single missed round). Many have tried to talk their way out of having to practice and take the test again. Many were sincere in their efforts and missed passing by the smallest of margins. Our range masters are unflinching, however. If you don’t pass, even by a single misplaced round on the target, you can expect to start all over again. Our range masters know: When your life’s on the line, accuracy ends up being the most important attribute an officer can have.
It’s no different when it comes to our spiritual lives.
Many of my friends are not Christians. I was not raised in a Christian environment and most of my extended family members are either atheists or Mormons. I also have many friends who claim one version of theism or another, and most of these have developed a rather personal view of God, unrepresented by traditional religious systems or denominations. Our notions of God are different and contradictory. We define the nature of god, the nature of Jesus, the nature of the afterlife and the nature of salvation very differently. These contradictions between theistic worldviews present a dilemma. We can all be wrong about what we believe, but we can’t all be right; our views are contradictory, after all. Noneof us may have an accurate understanding or one of us may have an accurate understanding, but all of us can’t be accurate, given our conflicting beliefs about God.
In the context of our earthly conversations and interactions it’s tempting to simply tolerate the variety of beliefs we encounter in order to get along with one another, as though these beliefs are simply a matter of subjective opinion. This may be the correct approach when the subject matter under consideration is relatively benign. If we’re discussing our music preferences, for example, accuracy is an irrelevant concept. If the subject matter under consideration is a matter of life and death, however (like our preference in treating a particular form of cancer), accuracy is once again critical. I’m reminded of a friend who once purchased a new telescope in preparation for an historic appearance of Mars in the northern hemisphere. There was a particular Wednesday when Mars was going to be closer to earth than it had been (or would be again) for another 550 years. On that specific Wednesday night, he set up his new telescope but discovered he couldn’t see Mars much better than he could a month prior with his old telescope. Why? Because he was wrong about the date of the sighting and missed it by exactly one year! He made a sincere effort to see the red planet, but was sincerely wrong about the timing. His inaccuracy cost him the opportunity he was seeking.
Spiritual accuracy is even more important. Jesus understood the importance of accuracy and repeatedly called his followers to precision when it came to understanding his identity and the specific nature of Salvation:
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
The Happiest People in the World
By John Knight 3/20/2015
The statistics are remarkable.
People living with Down syndrome.
How Do I Know If I Really Love Jesus?
By Jon Bloom 2/28/2018
How do we know if we really love Jesus? The Bible’s answer might surprise you.
We know if we love Jesus by what we consistently (not perfectly) do and don’t do. We know this because Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And the apostle John echoed Jesus when he wrote, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3).
At face value, these statements should make any lover uncomfortable. We all know intuitively that the essence of love is not merely its actions. Love cannot be reduced to a mere verb. That’s why everyone laughs at John Piper’s illustration of a husband handing his wife a big bouquet of flowers on their wedding anniversary and then telling her he’s just fulfilling his obligation as a dutiful husband. It’s why everyone understands Edward John Carnell’s illustration of a husband asking, “Must I kiss my wife goodnight?” Because we know the answer is “Yes, but not that kind of must.”
Not That Kind of Must | Neither Jesus nor John meant that obeying Jesus’s commandments is the same thing as love. What they meant was that love for God, by its very nature, produces the consistent characteristic of “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). So, on earth, love for Christ tends to look like obeying Christ.
Now, love, faith, and obedience are not the same things. Love is our cherishing or treasuring Christ, faith is our trusting Christ, and obedience is our doing what Christ says. The essence of each is different. Bad things, like dead orthodoxy and legalism, happen when we make them the same thing. We must keep Christ’s commandments — but not that kind of must.
Though they are distinct, they are inseparable. We cannot love Christ without trusting (exercising faith in) him (1 Peter 1:8). We cannot trust Christ without obeying him (James 2:17). So, naturally, we cannot love Christ if we live in persistent, conscious disobedience to him (1 John 1:6; Luke 6:46).
Wearing Our Love on Our Sleeves | This is an elegant, devastatingly simple design. God made us to wear our love on our sleeves. He wired us to serve what we treasure. How we love ourselves is evident by how we serve ourselves, for good (Ephesians 5:29) or for evil (2 Timothy 3:2). How we love our spouse or children or friends or pastors or co-workers or pets is evident by how we serve or neglect them. Whether we love God or money is evident by how we serve or neglect one or the other (Luke 16:13). In the long run, we cannot fake who or what we really serve.
It’s true that we sometimes can hide our sleeves from human view — sometimes even from ourselves — at least for a while. But God has a way of exposing our sleeves eventually.
Jon Bloom Books:
Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith
Things Not Seen: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Trusting God's Promises
Don't Follow Your Heart: God's Ways Are Not Your Ways
Expository preaching and the recovery of Christian worship
By R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Evangelical Christians have been especially attentive to worship in recent years sparking a renaissance of thought and conversation about what worship really is and how it should be done. Even if this renewed interest has resulted in what some have called the “worship wars” in some churches, it seems that what A.W. Tozer once called the “missing jewel” of evangelical worship is being recovered.
Nevertheless, if most evangelicals would quickly agree that worship is central to the life of the church, there would be no consensus to an unavoidable question: “What is central to Christian worship?”
Though most evangelicals mention preaching of the Word as a necessary or customary part of worship, the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music — along with innovations such as drama and video presentations.
Christians often shop congregations in order to find the church that offers the worship style and experience that fits their expectation. In most communities, churches are known for their worship styles and musical programs. Those dissatisfied with what they find at one church can quickly move to another, sometimes using the language of self-expression to explain that the new church “meets our needs” or “allows us to worship.”
A concern for true biblical worship was at the very heart of the Protestant Reformation. But even Martin Luther, who wrote hymns and required his preachers to be trained in song, would not recognize this modern preoccupation with music as legitimate or healthy. Why? Because the Reformers were convinced that the heart of true biblical worship was the preaching of the Word of God.
Music is one of God’s most precious gifts to his people, and it is a language by which we may worship God in spirit and in truth. The hymns of the faith convey rich confessional and theological content, and many modern choruses recover a sense of doxology formerly lost in many evangelical churches. But music is not the central act of Christian worship. The heart of Christian worship is the authentic preaching of the Word of God.
John Stott’s simple declaration states the issue boldly: “Preaching is indispensable to Christianity.” More specifically, preaching is indispensable to Christian worship — and not only indispensable, but central.
A need for faithful expository preaching | In far too many churches today, the Bible is nearly silent. The public reading of Scripture has been dropped from many services, and the sermon has been sidelined, reduced to a brief devotional appended to the music.
- 1 God and the Transgender Debate
- 2 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 3 Live Smart: Preparing for the Future God Wants for You
- 4 God's Word Alone---The Authority of Scripture: ...and Why It Still Matters
- 5 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 6 Echoes of the Reformation
- 7 The Call to Ministry
- 8 A Guide to Church Revitalization
- 9 Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism
- 10 Living The Cross Centered Life Keeping The Gospel The Main Thing
- 11 Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
- 12 Essential Reading on Preaching (Volume 1)
- 13 Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy
- 14 The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
- 15 Unashamed of the Gospel
- 16 Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance
- 17 Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America
- 18 Gods of This Age Or... God of the Ages?
- 19 Acts 1-12: The Church is Born
- 20 More Faithful Service
- 21 The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness
- 22 Preaching: The Centrality of Scripture
- 23 Theological Education in the Evangelical Tradition
- 24 More Faithful Service
- 25 The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 33The Steadfast Love of the LORD
1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
Exodus 33; John 12; Proverbs 9; Ephesians 2
By Don Carson 3/22/2018
One cannot understand Exodus 33 without grasping two things: (1) The tabernacle had not yet been built. The “tent of meeting” pitched outside the camp (33:7) where Moses went to seek the face of God must therefore have been a temporary arrangement. (2) The theme of judgment trails on from the wretched episode of the golden calf. God says he will not go with his people; he will merely send an angel to help them (33:1-3).
So Moses continues with his intercession (33:12-13). While dwelling on the fact that this nation is the Lord’s people, Moses now wants to know who will go with him. (Aaron is so terribly compromised.) Moses himself still wants to know and follow God’s ways. God replies, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (33:14). But how does this square with the Lord’s threat to do no more than send an angel, to keep away from the people so that he does not destroy them in his anger? So Moses presses on: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here [angel or no!]” (33:15). What else, finally, distinguishes this fledgling nation from all other nations but the presence of the living God (33:16)?
And the Lord promises, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (33:17).
Although Moses continues to pray along these lines in the next chapter (34:9), the glorious fact is that God no longer speaks of abandoning his people. When the tabernacle is built, it is installed in the midst of the twelve tribes.
Three brief reflections: (1) These chapters exemplify the truth that God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5; 34:14). For one human being to be jealous of another is sinful: we are finite, and we are called to be stewards of what we have received, not jealous of others. But for God not to be jealous of his own sovereign glory and right would be a formidable failure: he would be disowning his own unique significance as God, implicitly conceding that his image-bearers have the right to independence. (2) God is said to “relent” about forty times in the Old Testament. Such passages demonstrate his personal interactions with other people. When all forty are read together, several patterns emerge — including the integration of God’s “relenting” with his sovereign will. (3) Wonderfully, when Moses asks to see God’s glory, God promises to display his goodness (33:18 -19). It is no accident that the supreme manifestation of the glory of God in John’s gospel is in the cross.
Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).
Don Carson Books:
- 1 An Introduction to the New Testament
- 2 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 3 The Gospel according to John Pillar NT Commentary
- 4 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Hardcover: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 5 Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation
- 6 Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- 7 Exegetical Fallacies
- 8 For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Volume 1
- 9 Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering
- 10 Matthew (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 11 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 12 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 13 How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 14 New Testament Commentary Survey
- 15 For the Love of God, Volume 2: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word
- 16 9: Matthew and Mark (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
- 17 Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14
- 18 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 19 The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures
- 20 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: John 14-17
- 21 Introducing NT: A Short Guide to Its History and Message
- 22 Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson
- 23 Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes
- 24 Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10
- 25 The Intolerance of Tolerance
- 26 From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical and Theological Investigation
- 27 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 28 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspective in Tension
- 29 The Expositor's Bible commentary : Matthew, Mark, Luke Vol. 8
- 30 Christ and Culture Revisited
- 31 NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 32 The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 33 Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day
- 34 Gagging of God, The
- 35 The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices
- 36 The God Who Is There Leader's Guide: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 37 What Is the Gospel?
- 38 His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
- 39 The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the OT
- 40 Love in Hard Places
- 41 Coming Home: Essays on the New Heaven and New Earth
- 42 God's Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World
- 43 Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus
- 44 Telling the Truth
- 45 God's Word, Our Story: Learning from the Book of Nehemiah
- 46 Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications
- 47 The Sermon on the Mount: An Evangelical Exposition of Matthew 5-7
- 48 Sunsets: Reflections for Life's Final Journey
- 49 God with Us: Themes from Matthew
- 50 A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13
- 51 NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message
- 52 The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry
- 53 Teach Us to Pray: Prayer in the Bible and the World
- 54 Matthew, Vol.2 (Ch. 13-28), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 55 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 56 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story
- 57 Entrusted with the Gospel: Pastoral Expositions of 2 Timothy
- 58 Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension
- 59 The Holy Spirit
- 60 The Plan
- 61 Collected Writings on Scripture
- 62 The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism
- 63 Matthew, Vol.1 (Ch. 1-12), The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- 64 Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Influence of Carl F. H. Henry
- 65 The Restoration of All Things
- 66 Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times
- 67 Christ's Redemption
- 68 Exegetical Fallacies
- 69 Justification
- 70 Greek Accents: A Student's Manual
- 71 Gospel-Centered Ministry
- 72 The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians
- 77 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 78 The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians
- 79 [(Christ and Culture Revisited)]
- 80 When Jesus Confronts the World: An Exposition of Matthew 8-10
- 81 The Church: God's New People
- 82 Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life
- 83 Love in Hard Places
- 84 The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place In God'S Story
- 85 NT Commentary Survey
- 86 The Inclusive Language Debate
- 87 Exegetical Fallacies
- 88 The Farewell Discourse and Final Prayer of Jesus: An Exposition of John 14-17
- 89 NT Commentary Survey
- 90 How long, O Lord? (2nd edition): Reflections on Suffering and Evil
- 91 Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century
- 92 Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians
- 93 By D. A. Carson - Gagging of God
- 94 Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed
- 95 The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
- 96 A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
- 97 A Call to Spiritual Reformation
Another Archaeological Find Shows That The Bible Really Is History
By Misty Callahan 3/6/2018
Last year I wrote an article about how archaeological discoveries continue to support the Bible. In it, I quoted George Rawlinson and Albert Nicols Arnold’s book, “The Historical Evidences Of The Truth Of The Scripture Records” with the following:
“…even at this remote distance of time from the date of the Sacred Oracles, new evidences of their credibility and accuracy are continually coming to light. How much may yet remain, buried under barren mounds, or entombed in pyramids and catacombs, or hidden in the yet unexplored pages of some ancient literature…”
I didn’t know then how appropriate it would be to share that quote. In my article, I mentioned the 2015 discovery of the seal of King Hezekiah. As it turns out, near where King Hezekiah’s seal was found, another incredible archaeological find was revealed to the world at large: the seal of the Prophet Isaiah.
In February of this year, the Times of Israel reported that archaeologists most likely found the seal of the Prophet Isaiah. I say “most likely” because the seal is damaged and as such, missing a crucial letter, “aleph.” That letter would make the second word on the seal “prophet.” Because of that fact, there is no way to be 100% sure that is is the seal of the Prophet Isaiah. Plus, there is a debate on whether the title “prophet” would have been used at all.
That said, it still seems highly likely that it is the seal of the prophet Isaiah. Dr. Eliat Mazar pointed out the archaeological context in which the seal was found. As the article from the Times of Israel stated:
“It was found only 10 feet away from where in 2015 Mazar’s team discovered an important, intact bulla with the inscription ‘of King Hezekiah of Judah.’ The 12th king of the Kingdom of Judah, King Hezekiah ruled from circa 727 BCE-698 BCE…”
Taking both evidence for and against the seal belonging to Isaiah into account, the article quotes Dr. Robert Cargill of Biblical Archaeology Review:
“Cargill, a religious studies assistant professor at the University of Iowa, said he respected Mazar’s ‘careful, responsible treatment’ of the bulla in the BAR article. ‘She didn’t rush to conclusively say she had found the seal of Isaiah… In our article she gives the possible alternatives,’ said Cargill, who called himself ‘a natural skeptic.'” Cargill goes on saying, “…’BUT IF YOU’RE ASKING ME, I THINK SHE’S GOT IT. YOU’RE LOOKING AT THE FIRST ARCHAEOLOGICAL REFERENCE OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH OUTSIDE OF THE BIBLE,’ SAID CARGILL. ‘IT’S AMAZING.'”
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
9. This conflict which believers maintain against the natural feeling
of pain, while they study moderation and patience, Paul elegantly
describes in these words: "We are troubled on every side, yet not
distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not
forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed," (2 Cor. 4:8, 9). You see that
to bear the cross patiently is not to have your feelings altogether
blunted, and to be absolutely insensible to pain, according to the
absurd description which the Stoics of old gave of their hero as one
who, divested of humanity, was affected in the same way by adversity
and prosperity, grief and joy; or rather, like a stone, was not
affected by anything. And what did they gain by that sublime wisdom?
they exhibited a shadow of patience, which never did, and never can,
exist among men. Nay, rather by aiming at a too exact and rigid
patience, they banished it altogether from human life. Now also we have
among Christians a new kind of Stoics, who hold it vicious not only to
groan and weep, but even to be sad and anxious. These paradoxes are
usually started by indolent men who, employing themselves more in
speculation than in action, can do nothing else for us than beget such
paradoxes. But we have nothing to do with that iron philosophy which
our Lord and Master condemned--not only in word, but also by his own
example. For he both grieved and shed tears for his own and others'
woes. Nor did he teach his disciples differently: "Ye shall weep and
lament, but the world shall rejoice," (John 16:20). And lest any one
should regard this as vicious, he expressly declares, "Blessed are they
that mourn," (Mt. 5:4). And no wonder. If all tears are condemned, what
shall we think of our Lord himself, whose "sweat was as it were great
drops of blood falling down to the ground?" (Luke 22:44; Mt. 26:38). If
every kind of fear is a mark of unbelief, what place shall we assign to
the dread which, it is said, in no slight degree amazed him; if all
sadness is condemned, how shall we justify him when he confesses, "My
soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death?"
10. I wished to make these observations to keep pious minds from despair, lest, from feeling it impossible to divest themselves of the natural feeling of grief, they might altogether abandon the study of patience. This must necessarily be the result with those who convert patience into stupor, and a brave and firm man into a block. Scripture gives saints the praise of endurance when, though afflicted by the hardships they endure, they are not crushed; though they feel bitterly, they are at the same time filled with spiritual joy; though pressed with anxiety, breathe exhilarated by the consolation of God. Still there is a certain degree of repugnance in their hearts, because natural sense shuns and dreads what is adverse to it, while pious affection, even through these difficulties, tries to obey the divine will. This repugnance the Lord expressed when he thus addressed Peter: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself and walkedst whither thou wouldst; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee; and carry thee whither thou wouldest not," (John 21:18). It is not probable, indeed, that when it became necessary to glorify God by death he was driven to it unwilling and resisting; had it been so, little praise would have been due to his martyrdom. But though he obeyed the divine ordination with the greatest alacrity of heart, yet, as he had not divested himself of humanity, he was distracted by a double will. When he thought of the bloody death which he was to die, struck with horror, he would willingly have avoided it: on the other hand, when he considered that it was God who called him to it, his fear was vanquished and suppressed, and he met death cheerfully. It must therefore be our study, if we would be disciples of Christ, to imbue our minds with such reverence and obedience to God as may tame and subjugate all affections contrary to his appointment. In this way, whatever be the kind of cross to which we are subjected, we shall in the greatest straits firmly maintain our patience. Adversity will have its bitterness, and sting us. When afflicted with disease, we shall groan and be disquieted, and long for health; pressed with poverty, we shall feel the stings of anxiety and sadness, feel the pain of ignominy, contempt, and injury, and pay the tears due to nature at the death of our friends: but our conclusion will always be, The Lord so willed it, therefore let us follow his will. Nay, amid the pungency of grief, among groans and tears this thought will necessarily suggest itself and incline us cheerfully to endure the things for which we are so afflicted.
11. But since the chief reason for enduring the cross has been derived from a consideration of the divine will, we must in few words explain wherein lies the difference between philosophical and Christian patience. Indeed, very few of the philosophers advanced so far as to perceive that the hand of God tries us by means of affliction, and that we ought in this matter to obey God. The only reason which they adduce is, that so it must be. But is not this just to say, that we must yield to God, because it is in vain to contend against him? For if we obey God only because it is necessary, provided we can escape, we shall cease to obey him. But what Scripture calls us to consider in the will of God is very different, namely, first justice and equity, and then a regard to our own salvation. Hence Christian exhortations to patience are of this nature, Whether poverty, or exile, or imprisonment, or contumely, or disease, or bereavement, or any such evil affects us, we must think that none of them happens except by the will and providence of God; moreover, that every thing he does is in the most perfect order. What! do not our numberless daily faults deserve to be chastised, more severely, and with a heavier rod than his mercy lays upon us? Is it not most right that our flesh should be subdued, and be, as it were, accustomed to the yoke, so as not to rage and wanton as it lists? Are not the justice and the truth of God worthy of our suffering on their account?  But if the equity of God is undoubtedly displayed in affliction, we cannot murmur or struggle against them without iniquity. We no longer hear the frigid cant, Yield, because it is necessary; but a living and energetic precept, Obey, because it is unlawful to resist; bear patiently, because impatience is rebellion against the justice of God. Then as that only seems to us attractive which we perceive to be for our own safety and advantage, here also our heavenly Father consoles us, by the assurance, that in the very cross with which he afflicts us he provides for our salvation. But if it is clear that tribulations are salutary to us, why should we not receive them with calm and grateful minds? In bearing them patiently we are not submitting to necessity but resting satisfied with our own good. The effect of these thoughts is, that to whatever extent our minds are contracted by the bitterness which we naturally feel under the cross, to the same extent will they be expanded with spiritual joy. Hence arises thanksgiving, which cannot exist unless joy be felt. But if the praise of the Lord and thanksgiving can emanate only from a cheerful and gladdened breasts and there is nothing which ought to interrupt these feelings in us, it is clear how necessary it is to temper the bitterness of the cross with spiritual joy.
 See end of sec. 4, and sec. 5, 7, 8.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain Institutes of the Christian Religion
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
7/2006 A Man in Christ
What does it mean to be a real man? According to the standards of our society, a real man is big and strong, bold and brave, confident and competitive. Through the voices of the moguls of media and the movies, young men are taught that a real man is a true stoic — someone who doesn’t show his emotions; he is apathetic about the cares of the world, apathetic to the problems of others, and, especially, apathetic to all things religious. Just about every popular television program, commercial, and cartoon portrays men as infantile, aloof, and ignorant, and if our Hollywood-inoculated culture is accurate in its assessment, then it is certainly appropriate to conclude that any man who would read an article such as this, or for that matter any man who would write an article such as this, is not a real man. Furthermore, if a man is a “man’s man,” he certainly isn’t the type of person who concerns himself with sappy, spiritual things, such as servant-hood, humility, prayer, faith, and love.
The apostle Paul was indeed a man of strength, bravery, boldness, and confidence, and he was a man who cared deeply about the world, about others, and about all things religious. He was a man who very much concerned himself with servant-hood, humility, prayer, faith, and love. He was a man of such spiritual fortitude that he understood that he was strongest in Christ when he was weakest in himself (2 Cor. 12:10). He was a man who knew that his only confidence was in Christ, not in his own natural abilities (Phil. 3:3). He was a man who cared so much for the people of God that he was willing to suffer the persecutions of men rather than be at home with Christ (Phil. 1:21). He was a man who didn’t feel the need to pound his chest and defend himself as the great apostle Paul; rather, he buffeted his body to gain an invisible crown so that he could present it to the Lord (1 Cor. 9:26). He was a man willing to be considered a fool for Christ (1 Cor. 1:27), and he was a man who wanted to be identified, first and foremost, as one graciously called to be an apostle who was a bondservant of Christ. Just as he boldly proclaimed the doctrine of justification by faith alone because of the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, so he lived and breathed the simple phrase that he wrote on nearly every page of every epistle: “in Christ.” Paul was a real man, and one of the greatest men of all time, not because he lived for his own greatness and glory but because he lived humbly before the face of God, coram Deo, for the glory of God.
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Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
Ligonier coram Deo (definition)
by Bill Federer
On this date, March 22, 1758, Princeton University President Jonathan Edwards died as a result of a smallpox inoculation. Himself a Yale graduate, being valedictorian of his class, Jonathan Edwards’ preaching began the Great Awakening, a revival of such proportions that history credits it with uniting the colonies prior to the Revolution. Of this awakening, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “It was wonderful to see… From being thoughtless or indifferent… it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in… every street.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Disturbances in society are never more fearful than when those who are stirring up the trouble can use the pretext of religion to mask their true designs.
--- Denis Diderot Memorable Quotations: Philosophers of Western Civilization
In nothing does Providence shine forth more gloriously in this world than in ordering the occasions, instruments and means of conversion of the people of God. However skillfully its hand had moulded your bodies, however tenderly it had preserved them and however bountifully it had provided for them; if it had not also ordered some means or other for your conversion, all the former favours and benefits it had done for you had meant little. This, O this, is the most excellent benefit you ever received from its hand. You are more indebted to it for this, than for all your other mercies.
--- John Flavel Keeping the Heart: How to maintain your love for God
A good book is the precious life-blood
of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured
up on purpose to a life beyond life.
--- John Milton Areopagitica
We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.
--- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Redeeming the Time
... from here, there and everywhere
University of Virginia Libray 1994
Twenty-fourth of sixth month. -- This day we passed Fort Allen and lodged near it in the woods. We forded the westerly branch of the Delaware three times, which was a shorter way than going over the top of the Blue Mountains called the Second Ridge. In the second time of fording where the river cuts through the mountain, the waters being rapid and pretty deep, my companion's mare, being a tall, tractable animal, was sundry times driven back through the river, being laden with the burdens of some small horses which were thought unable to come through with their loads. The troubles westward, and the difficulty for Indians to pass through our frontier, was, I apprehend, one reason why so many came, expecting that our being in company would prevent the outside inhabitants being surprised. We reached Bethlehem on the 25th, taking care to keep foremost, and to acquaint people on and near the road who these Indians were. This we found very needful, for the frontier inhabitants were often alarmed at the report of the English being killed by Indians westward. Among our company were some whom I did not remember to have seen at meeting, and some of these at first were very reserved; but we being several days together, and behaving in a friendly manner towards them, and making them suitable return for the services they did us, they became more free and sociable.
Twenty-sixth of sixth month. -- Having carefully endeavored to settle all affairs with the Indians relative to our journey, we took leave of them, and I thought they generally parted from us affectionately. We went forward to Richland and had a very comfortable meeting among our friends, it being the first day of the week. Here I parted with my kind friend and companion Benjamin Parvin, and, accompanied by my friend Samuel Foulk, we rode to John Cadwallader's, from whence I reached home the next day, and found my family tolerably well. They and my friends appeared glad to see me return from a journey which they apprehended would be dangerous; but my mind, while I was out, had been so employed in striving for perfect resignation, and had so often been confirmed in a belief, that, whatever the Lord might be pleased to allot for me, it would work for good, that I was careful lest I should admit any degree of selfishness in being glad overmuch, and labored to improve by those trials in such a manner as my gracious Father and Protector designed. Between the English settlements and Wehaloosing we had only a narrow path, which in many places is much grown up with bushes, and interrupted by abundance of trees lying across it. These, together with the mountain swamps and rough stones, make it a difficult road to travel, and the more so because rattle-snakes abound here, of which we killed four. People who have never been in such places have but an imperfect idea of them; and I was not only taught patience, but also made thankful to God, who thus led about and instructed me, that I might have a quick and lively feeling of the afflictions of my fellow-creatures, whose situation in life is difficult.
John Woolman's Journal
Practical religion. The Christian life
Moment by moment I've life from above.
If God allows the sun to shine upon you moment by moment, without intermission, will not God let His life shine upon you every moment? And why have you not experienced it? Because you have not trusted God for it, and you do not surrender yourself absolutely to God in that trust.
A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that. Yes, it has something far more than difficulties: it is a life that with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a life to which we are destined, and a life that is possible for us, praise God! Let us believe that God will maintain it.
Some of you have read the words of that aged saint who, on his ninetieth birthday, told of all God's goodness to him--I mean George Muller. What did he say he believed to be the secret of his happiness, and of all the blessing which God had given him? He said he believed there were two reasons. The one was that he had been enabled by grace to maintain a good conscience before God day by day; the other was, that he was a lover of God's Word. Ah, yes, a good conscience is complete obedience to God day by day, and fellowship with God every day in His Word, and prayer--that is a life of absolute surrender.
Such a life has two sides--on the one side, absolute surrender to work what God wants you to do; on the other side, to let God work what He wants to do.
First, to do what God wants you to do.
Give up yourselves absolutely to the will of God. You know something of that will; not enough, far from all. But say absolutely to the Lord God: "By Thy grace I desire to do Thy will in everything, every moment of every day." Say: "Lord God, not a word upon my tongue but for Thy glory, not a movement of my temper but for Thy glory, not an affection of love or hate in my heart but for Thy glory, and according to Thy blessed will."
Someone says: "Do you think that possible?"
I ask, What has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way beyond what you expect. From the beginning, ear hath not heard, neither hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait for Him (1 Cor. 2:9). God has prepared unheard-of things, blessings much more wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive. They are divine blessings. Oh, say now:
"I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God wants."
I am using the 1895 Public Domain version. Below is an Amazon link for a modern copy.
Absolute Surrender (The Colportage Library)
by D.H. Stern
but the wicked is vile and disgraceful.
6 Righteousness protects him whose way is honest,
but wickedness brings down the sinner.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
This is Wonderful!
It was a sultry summer's day a hundred and fifty years ago, and John Wesley was on the rocky road to Dublin. 'The wind being in my face, tempering the heat of the sun, I had a pleasant ride to Dublin. In the evening I began expounding the deepest part of the Holy Scripture, namely, the First Epistle of John, by which, above all other, even above all other inspired writings, I advise every young preacher to form his style. Here are sublimity and simplicity together, the strongest sense and the plainest language! How can any one that would speak as the oracles of God use harder words than are to be found here?' With which illuminating extract from the great man's journal we may dismiss him, the road to Dublin, and the text from which he preached in the Irish capital, all together. I have no further business with any of them. The thing that concerns me is the suggestive declaration, made by the most experienced preacher of all time, that sublimity and simplicity always go hand in hand. Here, in this deepest part of Holy Scripture, says the master, are sublimity and simplicity together. 'By this, above all other writings, I advise every preacher to form his style. How can any one that would speak as the oracles of God use harder words than are to be found here?' Such words from such a source are like apples of gold in pictures of silver, and I am thankful that I chanced to come upon the great man that hot July night in Dublin, and gather this distilled essence of wisdom as it fell from his eloquent lips.
I have often wondered why we teach children to pray that their simplicity may be pitied.
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child!
Pity my simplicity!
Suffer me to come to Thee!
Why 'pity my simplicity'? It is the one thing about a little child that is really sublime, sublimity and simplicity being, as we learned at Dublin, everlastingly inseparable. Pity my simplicity! Why, it is the sweet simplicity of a little child that we all admire and love and covet! Pity my simplicity! Why, it is the unspoiled and sublime simplicity of this little child of mine that takes my heart by storm and carries everything before it. And, depend upon it, the heart of the divine Father is affected not very differently. This soft, sweet little white-robed thing that kneels on my knee, with its arms around my neck, lisping its
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child!
Pity my simplicity!
Suffer me to come to Thee!
shames me by its very sublimity. It outstrips me, transcends me, and leaves me far behind. It soars whilst I grovel; it flies whilst I creep. That is what Jesus meant when He took a little child and set him in the midst of the disciples and said, 'Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven!' The simplest, He meant, is always the sublimest. And it was because the great Methodist had so perfectly caught the spirit of his great Master that he declared so confidently that night at Dublin, 'Simplicity and sublimity lie here together!'
It is always and everywhere the same. In literature sublimity is represented by the poet. What could be more sublime than the inspired imagination of Milton? And yet, and yet! The very greatest of all our literary critics, in his essay on Milton, feels it incumbent upon him to point out that imagination is essentially the domain of childhood. 'Of all people,' he says, 'children are the most imaginative. They abandon themselves without reserve to every illusion. Every image which is strongly presented to their mental eye produces on them the effect of reality. No man, whatever his sensibility may be, is ever affected by Hamlet or Lear as a little girl is affected by the story of poor Red Ridinghood. She knows that it is all false, that wolves cannot speak, that there are no wolves in England. Yet, in spite of the knowledge, she believes; she weeps; she trembles; she dares not go into a dark room lest she should feel the teeth of the monster at her throat.' And from these premisses, Macaulay proceeds to his inevitable conclusion. 'He who, in an enlightened and literary society, aspires to be a great poet must,' he says, 'first become a little child. He must take to pieces the whole web of his mind. He must unlearn much of that knowledge which has perhaps constituted hitherto his chief title to superiority. His very talents will be a hindrance to him. His difficulties will be proportioned to his proficiency in the pursuits which are fashionable among his contemporaries; and that proficiency will in general be proportioned to the vigour and activity of his mind.' Could there be any finer comment on the words of the Master?
'Simplicity and sublimity always go together!' said John Wesley that hot July night at Dublin.
'Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven!' said the Master on that memorable day in Galilee.
'He who aspires to be a great poet must first become a little child!' says Lord Macaulay in his incomparable essay on Milton.
I have carefully put the Master in His old place. He is in the midst, with the very greatest of our modern apostles on the one side of Him, and the very greatest of our modern historians on the other. But they are all three of them saying the same thing, each in his own way. It is a pity that we teach our children that the sublimest thing about them—their simplicity—is a thing of which they need to be ashamed. And the way in which their tiny tongues stumble over the great word seems to show that, following a true instinct, they do not take kindly to that clause in their bedtime prayer.
I am told that, away beyond the Never-Never ranges, there is a church from which the children are excluded before the sermon begins. I wish my informant had not told me of its existence. I am not often troubled with nightmare, my supper being quite a frugal affair. But just occasionally I find myself a victim of the terror by night. And when I am mercifully awakened, and asked why I am gasping so horribly and perspiring so freely, I have to confess that I was dreaming that I had somehow become the minister of that childless congregation. As is usual after nightmare, I look round with a sense of inexpressible thankfulness on discovering that it was only a horrid dream. An appointment to such a charge would be to me a most fearsome and terrifying prospect. I could not trust myself. In a way, I envy the man who can hold his own under such circumstances. His transcendent powers enable him to preserve his sturdy humanness of character, his charming simplicity of diction, his graphic picturesqueness of phrase, and his exquisite winsomeness of behaviour without the extraneous assistance which the children render to some of us. But I could not do it. I should go all to pieces. And so, when I dream that I have entered a pulpit from which I can survey no roguish young faces and mischievous wide-open eyes, I fancy I am ruined and undone. I watch with consternation as the little people file out during the hymn before the sermon, and I know that the sermon is doomed. The children in the congregation are my salvation.
I fancy that the custom to which I have referred was in vogue in the church to which the Rev. Bruno Leathwaite Chilvers ministered. Everybody knows Mr. Chilvers; at least everybody who loves George Gissing knows that very excellent gentleman. Mr. Chilvers loved to adorn his dainty discourses with certain words of strangely grandiloquent sound. '"Nullifidian," "morbific," "renascent"—these were among his favourites. Once or twice he spoke of "psychogenesis" with an emphatic enunciation which seemed to invite respectful wonder. In using Latin words which have become fixed in the English language, he generally corrected the common errors of quantity and pronounced words as nobody else did. He often alluded to French and German authors in order that he might recite French and German quotations.' And so on. Poor Mr. Chilvers! I am sure that the little children filed out during the hymn before the sermon. No man with a scrap of imagination could look into the dimpled face of a little girl I know and hurl 'nullifidian' at her. No man could look down into a certain pair of sparkling eyes that are wonderfully familiar to me and talk about things as 'morbific' or 'renascent.' If only the little tots had kept their seats for the sermon, it would have saved poor Mr. Chilvers from committing such atrocities. As it is, they went and he collapsed. Can anybody imagine John Wesley talking to his summer-evening crowd at Dublin about 'nullifidian,' or quoting German? I will say nothing of the Galilean preacher. The common people heard Him gladly. He was so simple and therefore so sublime. As Sir Edwin Arnold says:
The simplest sights He met—
The Sower flinging seed on loam and rock;
The darnel in the wheat; the mustard-tree
That hath its seeds so little, and its boughs
Widespreading; and the wandering sheep; and nets
Shot in the wimpled waters—drawing forth
Great fish and small—these, and a hundred such,
Seen by us daily, never seen aright,
Were pictures for Him from the page of life,
Teaching by parable.
Therein lay the sublimity of it all.
A little child, especially a little child of a distinctly restless and mischievous propensity, is really a great help to a minister, and it is a shame to deprive the good man of such assistance. It is only by such help that some of us can hope to approximate to real sublimity. Lord Beaconsfield used to say that, in making after-dinner speeches, he kept his eye on the waiters. If they were unmoved, he knew that he was in the realms of mediocrity. But when they grew excited and waved their napkins, he knew that he was getting home. Lord Cockburn, who was for some time Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain, when asked for the secret of his extraordinary success at the bar, replied sagely, 'When I was addressing a jury, I invariably picked out the stupidest-looking fellow of the lot, and addressed myself specially to him—for this good reason: I knew that if I convinced him I should be sure to carry all the rest!' Dr. Thomas Guthrie, in addressing gatherings of ministers, used to tell this story of Lord Cockburn with immense relish, and earnestly commended its philosophy to their consideration. I was reading the other day that Dr. Boyd Carpenter, formerly Bishop of Ripon and now Canon of Westminster, on being asked if he felt nervous when preaching before Queen Victoria, replied, 'I never address the Queen at all. I know there will be present the Queen, the Princes, the household, and the servants down to the scullery-maid, and I preach to the scullery-maid.' Little children do not attend political dinners such as Lord Beaconsfield adorned; nor Courts of Justice such as Lord Cockburn addressed; nor Royal chapels like that in which Dr. Boyd Carpenter officiated. And, in the absence of the children, the only chance of reaching sublimity that offered itself to these unhappy orators lay in making good use of the waiter, the stupid juryman, and the scullery-maid. If the Rev. Bruno Leathwaite Chilvers really cannot induce the children to abandon the bad habit in which they have been trained, I urge him, as a friend and a brother, to adopt the same ingenious expedient. But if he can get on the right side of a little child, persuade him to sit the sermon out, and vow that he will look straight into that bright little face, and say no word that will not interest that tiny listener, I promise him that before long people will say that his sermons are simply sublime. Robert Louis Stevenson knew what he was doing when he discussed every sentence of Treasure Island with his schoolboy step-son before giving it its final form. It was by that wise artifice that one of the greatest stories in our language came to be written.
The fact, of course, is that in the soul's sublimest moments it hungers for simplicity. One of Du Maurier's great Punch cartoons represented a honeymoon conversation between a husband and wife who had both covered themselves with glory at Cambridge. And the conversation ran along these highly intellectual lines:
'What would Lovey do if Dovey died?'
'Oh, Lovey would die too!'
There is a world of philosophy behind the nonsense. We do not make love in the language of the psychologist; we make love in the language of the little child. When life approaches to sublimity, it always expresses itself with simplicity. In the depth of mortal anguish, or at the climax of human joy, we do not use a grandiloquent and incomprehensible phraseology. We talk in monosyllables. As we grow old, and draw near to the gates of the grave, we become more and more simple. In his declining years, John Newton wrote, 'When I was young I was sure of many things. There are only two things of which I am sure now; one is that I am a miserable sinner, and the other that Christ is an all-sufficient Saviour.' What is this but the soul garbing itself in the most perfect simplicities as the only fitting raiment in which it can greet the everlasting sublimities?
'Here are sublimity and simplicity together!' exclaimed John Wesley on that hot July night at Dublin. 'How can any one that would speak as the oracles of God use harder words than are to be found here? By this I advise every young preacher to form his style!'
'He who aspires to be a great poet—as sublime as Milton—must first become a little child!' declares the greatest of all littérateurs.
'Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven!' says the Master Himself, taking a little child and setting him in the midst of them.
'Pity my simplicity!' pleads this little thing with its soft arms round my neck.
'Give me that simplicity!' say I.
Mushrooms on the Moor
Here it was checked. Round the Tree grew a belt of lilies: to the Ghost an insuperable obstacle. It might as well have tried to tread down an anti-tank trap as to walk on them. It lay down and tried to crawl between them but they grew too close and they would not bend. And all the time it was apparently haunted by the terror of discovery. At every whisper of the wind it stopped and cowered: once, at the cry of a bird, it struggled back to its last place of cover: but then desire hounded it out again and it crawled once more to the Tree. I saw it clasp its hands and writhe in the agony of its frustration.
The wind seemed to be rising. I saw the Ghost wring its hand and put its thumb into its mouth—cruelly pinched, I doubt not, between two stems of the lilies when the breeze swayed them. Then came a real gust. The branches of the Tree began to toss. A moment later and half a dozen apples had fallen round the Ghost and on it. He gave a sharp cry, but suddenly checked it. I thought the weight of the golden fruit where it had fallen on him would have disabled him: and certainly, for a few minutes, he was unable to rise. He lay whimpering, nursing his wounds. But soon he was at work again. I could see him feverishly trying to fill his pockets with the apples. Of course it was useless. One could see how his ambitions were gradually forced down. He gave up the idea of a pocketful: two would have to do. He gave up the idea of two, he would take one, the largest one. He gave up that hope. He was now looking for the smallest one. He was trying to find if there was one small enough to carry.
The amazing thing was that he succeeded. When I remembered what the leaf had felt like when I tried to lift it, I could hardly help admiring this unhappy creature when I saw him rise staggering to his feet actually holding the smallest of the apples in his hands. He was lame from his hurts, and the weight bent him double. Yet even so, inch by inch, still availing himself of every scrap of cover, he set out on his via dolorosa to the bus, carrying his torture.
‘Fool. Put it down,’ said a great voice suddenly. It was quite unlike any other voice I had heard so far. It was a thunderous yet liquid voice. With an appalling certainly I knew that the waterfall itself was speaking: and I saw now (though it did not cease to look like a waterfall) that it was also a bright angel who stood, like one crucified, against the rocks and poured himself perpetually down towards the forest with loud joy.
‘Fool’, he said, ‘put it down. You cannot take it back. There is not room for it in Hell. Stay here and learn to eat such apples. The very leaves and the blades of grass in the wood will delight to teach you.’
Whether the Ghost heard or not, I don’t know. At any rate, after pausing for a few minutes, it braced itself anew for its agonies and continued with even greater caution till I lost sight of it.
The Great Divorce
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
The burning heart
Did not our heart burn within us? --- Luke 24:32.
We need to learn this secret of the burning heart. Suddenly Jesus appears to us, the fires are kindled, we have wonderful visions; then we have to learn to keep the secret of the burning heart that will go through anything. It is the dull, bald, dreary, commonplace day, with commonplace duties and people, that kills the burning heart unless we have learned the secret of abiding in Jesus.
Much of our distress as Christians comes not because of sin, but because we are ignorant of the laws of our own nature. For instance, the only test as to whether we ought to allow an emotion to have its way is to see what the outcome of the emotion will be. Push it to its logical conclusion, and if the outcome is something God would condemn, allow it no more way. But if it is an emotion kindled by the Spirit of God and you do not let that emotion have its right issue in your life, it will react on a lower level. That is the way sentimentalists are made. The higher the emotion is, the deeper the degradation will be if it is not worked out on its proper level. If the Spirit of God has stirred you, make as many things inevitable as possible, let the consequences be what they will. We cannot stay on the mount of transfiguration, but we must obey the light we received there; we must act it out. When God gives a vision, transact business on that line, no matter what it costs.
‘We cannot kindle when we will
The fire which in the heart resides,
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides;
But tasks in hours or insight will’d
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill’d.’
My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
Song for Gwydion
When I was a child and the soft flesh was
Quietly as snow on the bare boughs of bone,
My father brought me trout from the green river
From whose chill lips the water song had flown.
Dull grew their eyes, the beautiful,
Of stipples faded, as light shocked the brain;
They were the first sweet sacrifice I tasted,
A young god, ignorant of the blood's stain.
Selected poems, 1946-1968
A World of Misunderstanding: John 7
We saw earlier that light and darkness are moral terms to John. They represent good and bad, righteousness and evil, as well as truth and falsity. Christ, the eternal Word (John 1) is the One through whom righteousness has always been communicated. Christ planted a moral awareness deep in every person, and revealed the nature of goodness back in the Old Testament. But John tells us that man’s understanding and interpretation of light is faulty. Thus Paul can insist that the Law is “holy, righteous, and good,” and still be convinced that Law had been an agent of death, stimulating sin rather than quieting it (Rom. 7:7–12).
We can see the distorted perception of the people of Jesus’ day by looking at a series of incidents reported in John 7. Jewish thinking about morality was similar to my own in my early days of faith. Against the background of such attitudes, we will be able to see how Jesus displayed the glory of God, as He revealed a new morality, the morality of grace.
Hatred, uncertainty, and fear (John 7:1–13). Jesus’ teachings and miracles had become widely known. His uncompromising presentation of Himself as God, and His offer of life to those who believed in Him, stirred up a number of reactions. Each reaction tells us something about the moral climate in Israel.
First, there was hatred (John 7:1, 7). The leaders of the people were charged with teaching God’s Word to Israel. But they were so unlike God that they actually hated the Son of God who revealed Him. They in fact responded to Jesus with murderous rage.
Second, there was ridicule (John 7:3–5). Jesus’ own brothers (in jealousy?) rejected the evidence of His works, and taunted Him.
Third, there was conflict. People argued with themselves and with each other. This Jesus. Is He a good Man, or a heretic? (John 7:12–13)
Fourth, there was fear. Even those who were convinced that Jesus was a Prophet and a good Man feared to take a stand. They knew they would be attacked, and probably persecuted by their religious leaders (referred to here and in other Johannine passages as “the Jews”).
Looking at these reactions, we’re forced to ask a question. What kind of results had Israel’s interpretation of the divine Law produced? Had God’s people become a community of love, caring, and closeness? Not at all! The people of God were angry, antagonistic, bitter, and fearful! There must be something wrong with an approach to faith that produces such a lifestyle! There must be a higher and better approach to morality and faith than this!
The Teacher's Commentary
Many of us have had the experience of seeing an incredible newspaper headline: “12 U.S. Senators Are Aliens!” “Woman Murdered by Fur Coat!” or “UFO Lands in Middle of Wedding Ceremony!” Studies have shown that while some people actually believe the headlines or the stories behind them, most know that these tabloids are sources of entertainment, rather than of factual news. Because the origin of such stories is a disreputable newspaper, the veracity of the story is automatically suspect.
The Rabbis are reminding us to be a bit skeptical when reading, to consider not only what is being said but also who is saying it. Ben S’tada was unacceptable on both counts. Not only was he a well-known fool, but he also taught witchcraft. The combination of person (Ben S’tada) and topic (sorcery) dooms the evidence that Rabbi Eliezer attempts to introduce. The Rabbis, thus, approach this topic, as many, with a dose of healthy skepticism.
In recent years, books have been written asserting that the Holocaust never took place or that it was a minor case of prejudice, not the genocide that has been accounted and documented for a generation. Most knowledgeable people approach this “historic revisionism” with similar healthy skepticism. What is the “truth” that is being presented? Haven’t hundreds, if not thousands, of books already been written documenting not only the atrocities of the Holocaust but also its extent? Don’t the “sources” and “documents” the revisionists bring in as proof contradict what is common knowledge? Furthermore, who is writing these materials? Are they world-renowned scholars, historians at prestigious universities? Most of the time, these diatribes are penned by second-class teachers without reputable credentials. Unfortunately, these works are often popular, but they are not credible by either standard.
Similarly, books have appeared “proving” that Jews were central to the American slave trade in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The authors seek to show that Jews continue to enslave blacks through economic means. A similar skepticism towards such books is healthy. Who are these authors? What are their “facts”? Why is it that most respected scholars have disavowed such works as political ax-grinding? What is the political agenda of such authors?
When both the message and the messenger are suspect, we can refer to our Gemara and reject such “proof.” The Rabbis set a precedent centuries ago, one which we would do well to follow today.
Like a groom among mourners … Like a mourner among grooms.
Text / Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: “These garments are clothes [olaryin] that come from overseas.” Does this mean to say that they are white? Did not Rabbi Yannai say to his sons: “My sons, do not bury me in white garments, nor in black garments. White—in case I lack merit, and I will be like a groom among mourners. Black—in case I do merit, and I will be like a mourner among grooms. But bury me in clothes [olaryin] that come from overseas.”
Context / Olaryin (read by some as olarin or ulirin) is a word of questionable origin, perhaps from the Greek. It has been described by some as cloaks worn in the bathhouse, by others as royal cloaks or robes, perhaps used at the bathhouse. What is clear is that these clothes would be suitable for shrouds as well.
Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish is often known as Resh Lakish, Resh being an acronym for Rabbi Shimon. Resh Lakish was a third-century Palestinian Amora and was the brother-in-law of Rabbi Yoḥanan, head of the famous study house in Tiberias. While he sometimes disagreed with his brother-in-law and teacher, he was also venerated by him. Tractate Bava Metzia 84a tells the story of how Resh Lakish studied with Rabbi Yoḥanan, only to be insulted by him when he disagreed with his teacher in a matter of law. Rabbi Yoḥanan said of Resh Lakish: “A thief knows his thievery!” Some see this as a reference to Resh Lakish’s life prior to his studying Torah. According to several sources, he had spent his early years outside the sphere of rabbinic Judaism, apparently as a circus entertainer or gladiator in the Roman theater, a common way for poor young men to earn a livelihood. It is not certain, however, if this biographical fact is true. Nonetheless, the Gemara relates that Rabbi Yoḥanan regretted this insult and, in refusing to be comforted over the death of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, cried out on his own deathbed: “Where are you, son of Lakisha? Where are you, son of Lakisha?”
The previous Mishnah speaks of folding clothes on Shabbat, teaching that items for use on Shabbat may be folded on Shabbat, but not items for use after Shabbat, in preparation for a weekday. This Mishnah leads the Gemara to a discussion of clothing in general and the rules of dress for scholars in specific. The text next brings in a number of traditions about scholars, who they are and how the community must respect them. Each section is an extension of the previous idea, though farther away from the original question of folding on Shabbat. Thus, the progression of thought is 1) folding clothes on Shabbat, 2) clothing, 3) a scholar’s clothes, 4) definition of a scholar, 5) respect due a scholar.
One of the terms that the Gemara uses for some scholars is banaim, “builders.” These are defined as people who “engage in improving the world all their lives,” that is, builders of a better world. Since the Gemara has defined the people who are banaim and the deference due them, it also attempts to define the clothing of banaim. Thus, Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish (known as Resh Lakish) states that among the clothing of banaim are garments called olaryin. What are olaryin? Based on the story of Rabbi Yannai, it appears that these are garments that are imported and are neither black nor white. Rabbi Yannai asks to be buried in these so that he may feel comfortable and not be out of place.
Rabbi Yannai may be using “sons” less in the sense of biological children and more as those who would bear the responsibility for burial, the sage’s pupils. Rabbi Yannai, though a great scholar and generous teacher, is worried about his own fate after his death. He does not want to be out of place. If he “merits,” that is, is rewarded after death with Heaven, where all are dressed in white, then he would not want to be the only one in black. If, however, he does not merit and is sent to Gehinnom or hell, then Rabbi Yannai would certainly not want to be the only one in white! Note that white is seen as pure and heavenly, black as evil and hellish.
Swimming in the Sea of Talmud: Lessons for Everyday Living
Thomas A Kempis
Book Three - Internal Consolation
The Thirteenth Chapter / The Obedience Of One Humbly Subject To The Example Of Jesus Christ
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, he who attempts to escape obeying withdraws himself from grace. Likewise he who seeks private benefits for himself loses those which are common to all. He who does not submit himself freely and willingly to his superior, shows that his flesh is not yet perfectly obedient but that it often rebels and murmurs against him.
Learn quickly, then, to submit yourself to your superior if you wish to conquer your own flesh. For the exterior enemy is more quickly overcome if the inner man is not laid waste. There is no more troublesome, no worse enemy of the soul than you yourself, if you are not in harmony with the spirit. It is absolutely necessary that you conceive a true contempt for yourself if you wish to be victorious over flesh and blood.
Because you still love yourself too inordinately, you are afraid to resign yourself wholly to the will of others. Is it such a great matter if you, who are but dust and nothingness, subject yourself to man for the sake of God, when I, the All-Powerful, the Most High, Who created all things out of nothing, humbly subjected Myself to man for your sake? I became the most humble and the lowest of all men that you might overcome your pride with My humility.
Learn to obey, you who are but dust! Learn to humble yourself, you who are but earth and clay, and bow down under the foot of every man! Learn to break your own will, to submit to all subjection! Be zealous against yourself! Allow no pride to dwell in you, but prove yourself so humble and lowly that all may walk over you and trample upon you as dust in the streets!
What have you, vain man, to complain of? What answer can you make, vile sinner, to those who accuse you, you who have so often offended God and so many times deserved hell? But My eye has spared you because your soul was precious in My sight, so that you might know My love and always be thankful for My benefits, so that you might give yourself continually to true subjection and humility, and might patiently endure contempt.
The Imitation Of Christ
They are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name …so that they may be one as we are one. --- John 17:11.
Why [did] Christ thus pray and plead with God for them when he was to die? ( The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel ... ) Certainly it was not because the Father was unwilling to grant the mercies he desired. No, the reasons of this great persistence are,
1. He foresaw a great trial then at hand and all the later trials of his people, as well. He knew their faith would be shaken by the approaching difficulties, when they would see their Shepherd struck and themselves scattered, the Son of man delivered into the hands of sinners and the Lord of life hang dead on the tree and sealed up in the grave. He foresaw what distresses his people would fall into between a busy Devil and bad hearts. Therefore he pleads with such persistence and ardency for them, that they might not go wrong.
2. He was now entering on his intercession work in heaven, and he desired in this prayer to give a sample of that part of his work before he left us, that we might understand what he would do for us when he was out of sight. It shows us what affections and dispositions he carried away with him and satisfies us that he who was so earnest with God on our behalf will not forget us or neglect our concerns in the other world. The intercession of Christ in heaven is carried much higher than this. Here he used prostrations of body, cries, and tears in his prayers; there, his intercession is carried in a more majestic way, befitting an exalted Jesus. But in this he left us special assistance to know the working of his heart, now in heaven, toward us.
3. And lastly, he would leave this as a standing monument of his fatherlike care and love to his people to the end of the world. And for this Christ delivered this prayer publicly, not withdrawing from the disciples to be private with God as he did in the garden. But he delivers it in their presence: “I say these things while I am still in the world” (John 17:13). And not only was it publicly delivered, but it was also recorded by John, that it might stand to all generations for a testimony of Christ’s tender care and love to his people.
--- John Flavel
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
England’s Reformation, inaugurated by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James I, was largely political. The genuine reformers, the Puritans and Separatists, were oppressed. But then, so were the Roman Catholics.
“Good Queen Bess” used fines, gallows, gibbets, racks, and whips against those who said Mass, honored the pope, or harbored a priest. Reputed Catholics had no peace. Often in the middle of the night, thugs would burst in and drag them away to be scourged, fined, or seared with glowing irons.
Nicholas Owen, probably a builder by trade, designed countless hiding places for endangered Catholics. He hid them in secret rooms and between the walls and under the floors. He hid them in stone fences and in underground passages. He designed nooks and crannies that looked like anything but hiding places.
He was a slight man, nicknamed “Little John,” so the royalists long discounted him of hiding so many. He seemed too small to move stones, break walls, and excavate the earth. But he viewed his work as divine. He always began construction of a hideaway by receiving the Eucharist. He prayed continually during the building, and he committed the spot to God.
He also proved a master at devising getaways for helping Catholics escape prison. He was an escapist himself, having several aliases and disguises. Perhaps no one saved the lives of more Catholics in England during those days than Nicholas Owen.
But Nicholas was at last betrayed. Taken to the Tower of London, his arms were fixed to iron rings and he was hung for hours, his body dangling. Weights added to his feet increased the suffering, yet not a word of information passed his lips. The tortures continued till March 2, 1606, when “his bowels broke in a terrible way” and he passed to his reward. He was canonized by the church and is honored each year on March 22, in Catholic tradition the feast day of St. Nicholas Owen.
God will bless you, even if others treat you unfairly for being loyal to him. You don’t gain anything by being punished for some wrong you have done. But God will bless you, if you have to suffer for doing something good. After all, God chose you to suffer as you follow in the footsteps of Christ, who set an example by suffering for you.
--- 1 Peter 2:19-21.
On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - March 22
“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed.”
--- Matthew 26:39.
There are several instructive features in our Saviour’s prayer in his hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from his three favoured disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice, these are very precious, but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your private devotions, where no ear hears but God’s.
It was humble prayer. Luke says he knelt, but another evangelist says he “fell on his face.” Where, then, must be THY place, thou humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head! Humility gives us good foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase ourselves that he may exalt us in due time.
It was filial prayer. “Abba, Father.” You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a father’s protection. Be not afraid to say, “My Father, hear my cry.”
Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until you prevail. Be as the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.
Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Yield, and God yields. Let it be as God wills, and God will determine for the best. Be thou content to leave thy prayer in his hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold. So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, thou shalt surely prevail.
Evening - March 22
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am."John 17:24.
O death! why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness hath rest? Why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight? If thou must use thine axe, use it upon the trees which yield no fruit; thou mightest be thanked then. But why wilt thou fell the goodly cedars of Lebanon? O stay thine axe, and spare the righteous. But no, it must not be; death smites the goodliest of our friends; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer—“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” It is that which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer. A good old divine remarks, “Many times Jesus and his people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say ‘Father, I will that thy saints be with me where I am’; Christ says, ‘Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.’ ” Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from his throne, and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?” Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, “Jesus, not my will, but thine be done.” You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction—“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” Lord, thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go.
Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD
Words and Music by Robert Lowry, 1826–1899
“… without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
The teaching of the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, is very clear regarding God’s forgiveness of man’s sin. Only a perfect blood sacrifice would satisfy the Father’s requirement of holiness. Throughout the Old Testament much is told about the blood atonements that the priests had to make on behalf of their people (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 17:11). But the blood of bulls and goats could never satisfy God’s justice for man’s past, present and future sin. Only the shedding of divine blood would do. The Father’s gift of salvation to man required His Son’s life blood. Now when God looks at us, He sees Christ’s shed blood and declares us righteous for Jesus’ sake. Our acceptance with God the Father rests completely upon the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace, or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb, takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they.
--- Isaac Watts
Robert Lowry was a popular Baptist pastor in various churches throughout the East. In later life he became interested in writing and publishing gospel songs. Today he is best remembered for his many contributions to our hymnal with songs such as “Nothing But the Blood,” published in 1876. Though simply stated both textually and musically (a five note melodic range and just two chords), this gospel song has had an important place in the church’s ministry in teaching both young and old the absolute necessity of trusting implicitly in the precious blood of Christ for this life and for eternity.
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; what can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon this I see—nothing but the blood of Jesus; for my cleansing, this my plea—nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Nothing can for sin atone—nothing but the blood of Jesus; naught of good that I have done—nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my hope and peace—nothing but the blood of Jesus; this is all my righteousness—nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Refrain: Oh! precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For Today: Isaiah 1:18; Zechariah 13:1; Romans 3:24, 25; Revelation 12:11.
Recognize anew your total dependence on Christ’s shed blood. Thank Him with these musical lines ---
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
A.W. Pink | (1886-1952)
Chapter 02 | Hebrews 13:20, 21
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” We must now carefully consider the particular act of God toward our Savior that the Apostle Paul here uses as his plea for the petition that follows. In the great mystery of redemption, God the Father sustains the office of supreme Judge (Heb. 12:23). He it was who laid upon their Surety the sins of His people. He it was who called for the sword of vengeance to smite the Shepherd (Zech. 13:7). He it was who richly rewarded and highly honored Him (Phil. 2:9). “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36; cf. 10:36). So it is in the text now before us: the restoring of Christ from the grave is here viewed not as an act of Divine power but of Divine justice. That God is here seen exercising His judicial authority is clear from the term used. We are ever the losers if, in our carelessness, we fail to note and duly weigh every single variation in the language of Holy Writ. Our text does not say that God “raised,” but rather that He “brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.” This sets before us a strikingly different yet most blessed aspect of truth, namely, the legal discharge of the body of our Surety from the prison of death.
Christ’s Resurrection, Part of a Legal Process
There was a formal legal process against Christ. Jehovah laid on Him all the iniquities of His elect, and thereby He was rendered guilty in the sight of the Divine Law. Thus He was justly condemned by Divine justice. Accordingly, He was cast into prison. God was wroth with Him as the Sinbearer. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, to exact full satisfaction from Him. But the debt being paid, the penalty of the Law having been inflicted, justice was satisfied and God was pacified. In consequence, God the Father became “the God of peace” both toward Christ and toward those whom He represented (Eph. 2:15-17). God’s anger being assuaged and His Law magnified and made honorable (Isa. 42:21), He then exonerated the Surety, setting Him free and justifying Him (Isa, 50:8; 1 Tim. 3:16). Thus it was foretold, “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?” (Isa. 53:8). In his most excellent exposition of Isaiah 53 —virtually unobtainable today —James Durham (1682) showed conclusively that verse 8 described Christ’s exaltation following His humiliation. He demonstrated that the term generation there has reference to His duration or continuance (as it does in Josh. 22:27). “As His humiliation was low, so His exaltation was ineffable: it cannot be declared, nor adequately conceived, the continuance of it being for ever.”
Condensing it into a few words, Durham gave the following as his analysis of Isaiah 53:8.
1. Something is here asserted of Christ: “he was taken (or “lifted up”) from prison and from judgment.” 2. Something is hinted which cannot be expressed: “Who shall declare his generation [continuance]?” 3. A reason is given in reference to both: “for he was cut off out of the land of the living.”
The clause “He was taken from prison and from judgment” does not merely call to mind the fact that Christ was arrested, held in custody, and brought to trial before the Sanhedrin and the civil magistrates. Rather, it primarily reminds us that the straits of humiliation and suffering into which Christ was brought were on account of His arraignment before God’s tribunal as the Husband and legal Surety of His people (His sheep, John 10:14, 15), the penalty of whose sin debts against God He was lawfully bound to pay (since He had voluntarily agreed to become their Husband). “For the transgression of my people was he stricken” (Isa. 53:8). The envious Jewish leaders (and their followers), who with wicked hands crucified and slew the Prince of life (Acts 2:23; 3:15) had not the slightest awareness of the great transactions between the Father and the Son now being legally enforced by their instrumentality. They were merely pursuing their rebellion against the Son of David, the popularly acclaimed King of Israel (John 1:49; 12:13), in a way consistent with the preservation of their own selfish interests as men of power, wealth, and prestige among the Jews. Yet in their high treason against the Lord of glory, whom they knew not (1 Cor. 2:8) they did God’s bidding (Acts 2:23; 4:25-28; cf. Gen. 50:19, 20) in bringing the appointed Substitute to justice as though He were a common criminal.
The word prison may be taken more largely for those straits and pressures of spirit that the Lord Jesus endured while suffering the curse of the Law, and judgment for the awful sentence inflicted upon Him.
It was to His impending judgment that Christ referred when He said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). And it is to the pains and confinement of prison that His agony in the Garden and His cry of anguish on the Cross are to be attributed. Ultimately, the grave became His prison.
The Significance of Christ’s Release from Death’s Prison
The Hebrew word laqach rendered taken in the clause “He was taken from prison and from judgment” sometimes signifies to deliver or to free, as a captive is liberated (see Isa. 49:24, 25; cf. Jer. 37:17; 38:14; 39:14). From both prison and judgment the Surety was taken or freed, so that “death hath no more dominion over him” (Rom. 6:9). Christ received the sentence of Divine absolution, just as one who is adjudged as having paid his debt is discharged by the court. Christ not only received absolution but was actually delivered from prison, having paid the utmost farthing demanded of Him. Though He was brought into prison and judgment, when the full demands of justice had been met He could no longer be detained. The Apostle Peter expressed it this way: “Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains [or “cords”] of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24, brackets mine). Matthew Henry declares, “He was by an extraordinary order of Heaven taken out of the prison of the grave; an angel was sent on purpose to roll away the stone and set Him at liberty, by which the judgment against Him was reversed, and taken off.” In this vein Thomas Manton insists that the clause “who shall declare His generation?” (Isa. 53:8) means who shall “declare the glory of His resurrection, as the previous words do His humiliation, suffering, and death”?
Manton rightly states, “While Christ was in the state of death He was in effect a prisoner, under the arrest of Divine vengeance; but when He rose again then was our Surety let out of prison.” In a most helpful way he goes on to show that the peculiar force of the phrase “brought again from the dead” is best explained by the dignified carriage of the apostles when they were unlawfully cast into prison. The next day the magistrates sent sergeants to the prison, bidding their keeper to let them go. But Paul refused to be “thrust…out privily” and remained there until the magistrates themselves formally “brought them out” (Acts 16:35-39). So it was with Christ: He did not break out of prison. As God had “delivered him up” to death (Rom. 8:32), so He “brought [Him] again from the dead.” Says Manton,
“It was as it were an acquittal from those debts of ours which He undertook to pay: as Simeon was dismissed when the conditions were performed, and Joseph was satisfied with a sight of his brother, he ‘brought Simeon out unto them’ (Gen. 43:23).”
It was God, in His official character as the Judge of all, who righteously freed our Substitute. Though Christ, as our Surety, was officially guilty and thus condemned (Isa. 53:4-8), He was personally innocent and was thus acquitted by His resurrection (Isa. 53:9-11; Heb. 4:15; 7:26-28; 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19). By bringing His son forth from the grave God was saying that this Jesus, the true Messiah, did not die for His own sins but for the sins of others.
The God of Peace Brought Christ from the Dead
Let us now briefly observe that it was as the God of peace that the Father acted when He “brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.” The perfect obedience and atoning oblation of Christ had met every requirement of the Law, had put away the iniquities of those for whom it was offered, and had placated God and reconciled Him to them. While sin remained there could be no peace; but when sin was blotted out by the blood of the Lamb, God was propitiated. Christ had “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20), but so long as He continued in the grave there was no open proclamation thereof. It was by His bringing of Christ forth from the dead that God made it known to the universe that His sacrifice had been accepted. By the resurrection of His Son did God the Father publicly declare that enmity was at an end and peace established. There was the grand evidence and proof that God was pacified toward His people. Christ had made an honorable peace, so that God could be both “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Take note also of the relation Christ sustained when God delivered Him from the dead: it was not as a private person but as the federal Head of His people that the Father dealt with Him, as “that great shepherd of the sheep,” so that His people were then legally delivered from the prison of death with Him (Eph. 2:5, 6).
Christ’s Petitions for His Own Deliverance
It is very blessed to learn from the Psalms—where much light, not given in the New Testament, is cast upon the heart exercises of the Mediator—that Christ supplicated God for deliverance from the tomb. In Psalm 88 (the prophetic subject matter of which is the passion of the Lord Jesus) we find Him saying, “Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave:” (vv. Psalm 88:2, 3). Since the transgressions of His people had been imputed to Him, those “troubles” were the sorrows and anguish that He experienced when the wages that were due to the sins of His people were inflicted and executed upon Him. He went on to exclaim to God, “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves” (Psalm 88:6, 7). There we are granted an insight into what the Savior felt in His soul under the stroke of God, as He endured all that was contained in the Father’s just and holy curse upon sin. He could not have been brought into a lower state. He was in total darkness, the sun for a season refusing to shine upon Him, as God hid His face from Him. The sufferings of Christ’s soul were tantamount to “the second death.” He suffered the whole of what was for Him, as the God-man, the equivalent of an eternity in hell.
The smitten Redeemer went on to say, “I am shut up, and I cannot come forth” (Psalm 88:8). None but the Judge could lawfully deliver Him. “Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee?” (Psalm 88:10). In his remarkable exposition, S. E. Pierce declared:
“Those questions contain the most powerful plea Christ Himself could urge before the Father for His own emerging out of His present state of suffering and for His resurrection from the power of death. ‘Shall the dead arise and praise Thee?’ Yet in Me Thou wilt show wonders in raising My body from the grave, or the salvation of Thine elect cannot be completed, nor Thy glory in the same fully shine forth. Thy wonders cannot be declared; the elect dead cannot rise again and praise Thee, as they must, but on the footing of My being raised up.”
“But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD” (Psalm 88:13). What light this Psalm casts upon these words of the apostle concerning Christ: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard. . . “ (Heb. 5:7). In the prophetic language of Psalm 2:8, God the Father says to His Son, “Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” In like manner, our Lord first cried for His deliverance from the prison of the tomb, and then the Father “brought him forth” in answer to His cry. Behold how perfectly the Son of man is conformed to our utter dependence on God. He, too, though the Sinless One, must pray for those blessings that God had already promised Him!
A Guide to Fervent Prayer
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2010 National Conference | Ligonier
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Ferguson, Godfrey, Lawson, Mohler, Sproul
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Begg, Carter, Lawson, Sproul, and Sproul Jr
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Ferguson, Lawson, Sproul, and Thomas
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Godfrey, Mohler, and Parsons
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Surprised By God
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Surprised By God, Q&A session
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